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Spot Burnout Before the Vacuum of Depression

Prince Harry recently talked about his twenty years feeling depressed and in despair over his mother’s death. His social standing and inability to express his feelings trapped him in a position of uneasiness and isolation. His behavior became more erratic, and he was unable to communicate honestly with those he loved most. As he became more fragile, he fought harder to keep painful memories and vulnerability hidden. Prince Harry regretted not seeking professional help earlier. If his family had noticed signs of burnout when he was a child, Harry could have gotten help immediately and not suffered for twenty years.

Burnout isn’t specific to work; it can happen with relationships, family, and home life. No matter how much you love your job, kids, or partner, it’s important to know when you’ve had too much and need a break. Taking necessary “self-care” breaks are mandatory for being a good parent, partner, and employee.

Burnout is the prelude to deep depression so it’s important to know the signs. The majority of people don’t wake up in a deep depression. Burnout begins small and continues to grow if no action is taken to minimize or reduce it. Your disinterest at work flows into your home life and your relationships. It can happen to a stay-at-home mom as easily as a student, physician, or teacher. Burnout is different from being tired or stressed out. When you’re stressed, you are still hopeful; when you’re burned out, there is no hope that it will get better. At that point, you know you’re very close to clinical depression.

Emotional Symptoms

  • You feel like every day is a bad day.

  • You feel bored or overwhelmed the majority of the time.

  • You feel like you’re walking through mud most days.

  • You feel hopeless about your situation.

  • Life feels like an exhausting routine.

Physical Symptoms

  • Digestive problems: heart burn, and appetite changes

  • Fatigue: sluggish, insomnia, changes in sleep, and feeling heavy

  • Back Pain: tension in your muscles

  • Mental confusion: you can’t think and you forget everything. You feel more irritable, frustrated, and cynical.

The majority of addicts feel burned out prior to beginning their addiction. Before turning to alcohol, food, or other unhealthy coping mechanism, try these suggestions:

  1. Trust your gut. The worst thing you can do is to keep the status quo when you feel burned out. Listen to yourself.

  2. Find a social network to join. Consider joining a group through your job, church, or health care provider. You need the support of others; strangers going through what you’re feeling at this time are the best healers.

  3. If possible, take a break. If the burnout is in the beginning stages, two weeks away can help you get a better perspective. New insight will help you make necessary changes to your schedule and routine.

  4. Work with your family doctor, a mental health provider, or an employee’s assistant program to figure out what areas of your life need to change.

Burnout is a wake-up call to get your life back. It’s not normal to feel like every day is a drudgery to get through day after day. You can make changes – you must make changes if you want to live each day as the precious gift it is.


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